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Retirement Planning

Retirement planning is becoming not just a good idea but an imperative for a growing segment of the population.  With the first of the Baby Boomers just now entering the system, retirement planning for the elders among us will soon become an expanding industry.  Yet according to the Retirement Confidence Survey (2009), 67% of respondents have very little confidence in the social security and Medicare systems.  Clearly the demand will be for services, but those who will be using those services do not expect them to be available.  In light of such attitudes, planning and relying on one's own resources has become all but mandatory. 

Modern health care and nutrition have extended life expectancy well beyond the expectations of even ten or twenty years ago.  Given good health and circumstances, one can expect to live to the mid-90's or beyond.  Retirement planning must therefore take this extended span into account. 

Recent events have made diversity of investment imperative for the elder years.  401k plans, individual retirement accounts, and traditional retirement planning via employer pensions are the lynch pin of any retirement plan.  Other options such as money market accounts, certificates of deposit, and even simple savings accounts supplied by direct deposit are all available.  With the help of a reputable and knowledgeable investment counselor one can invest in commodities futures, precious and industrial metals, foreign stock and commodities markets.  With a diversity of investments and benefits no matter what the market does one can be assured that they will generate a moderate amount of income. 

Continuing to Work

If you love what you do and don't want to give up doing it, consider planning for partial retirement.  Many retirees often find themselves at loose ends.  Cutting back your hours at a job you otherwise love or just "consulting" on an occasional basis may provide both productive diversion and a means to a part-time source of income. 

With the increase in free time after the primary working years, many turn hobbies or interests into income.  Such hobbies turned into jobs can be on a seasonal basis such as a former accountant offering help with tax planning or filing income tax forms before April 15th, a seamstress offering prom and wedding dresses during the spring and summer months, or a woodcarver making handmade decorations and Nativity scenes.  Craft fairs can provide a marketplace, as can such Internet markets such as Etsy, eBay, Craigslist, and so forth.  Even with only seasonal work, such income can provide a substantial supplement to the fixed income of pensions, retirement plans, and Social Security benefits.

Scaling Back

In addition to planning for income by investments and part-time work, many choose to increase retirement income by cutting back on or eliminating expenses.  With children grown and on their own, some retirees give a substantial boost to their income by trading in the family home for something smaller, easier and cheaper to maintain.  Some adventurous souls see retirement as a chance to forgo a house altogether for months at a time by taking to the road in recreational vehicles.  If wishes for retirement include extensive travel, with suitable advance planning this can be managed under a fixed income.  The money saved from lack of utilities expenses and even mortgage expenses (if planning involves giving up the house altogether) can fuel a life of adventure deferred during the working years.  There are communities of such vagabonds that keep in touch via the Internet, meeting and often spending weeks or months at a time living in RV parks across the country.

A paradigm shift is happening with regards to retirement planning and the outlook for the years after work.  In a certain light it is a new chance for planning for a more leisurely, more fitting way of life.  Planning for life after the primary working years can be a new opportunity, both in terms of what one chooses to do, when and how one chooses to do it. 

Rethinking life after retirement is imperative.  Longer lifespan means planning for a longer segment of life during which one may be productive, but the slowing down of advanced age may make the more physical aspects of full-time work unmanageable.  "Work years" and "elder years" are no longer separate categories.  "Work" must come to mean working by choice, when and where the worker can manage, and "retirement" must come to mean such work takes second place to leisure.  Telecommuting must not be the exclusive province of 20-somethings when it can become the means by which active, engaged senior citizens can continue with work they enjoy.  Whatever retirement planning one decides upon, the ultimate goal should be to provide for a long life of enjoyment and fulfillment.

Reference: Employee Benefit Research Institute  www.ebri.org
Reference: Social Security Online www.socialsecurity.gov

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